Despite the radical transformation of society associated with globalisation, shifting patterns of demography and the ongoing revolution in information and communication technologies, we remain profoundly attached to place in economic, social, cultural and emotional terms. So, if place really matters to us, what does it mean for leadership?
Our research into the ‘doing’ of leading in city and regional development emerges from a growing interest around the world in the role that leadership plays in the continuing shaping and re-shaping of place(s). And while there are many dynamics that need to be taken into account when explaining the development of neighbourhoods, towns, cities and regions – and the success (or otherwise) of business and economic development activities that are located in these settings – our work confirms that formal and informal leadership matters and can’t be ignored.
“Leadership is one of the factors that explains how and why some localities are better able to adapt to and exploit the opportunities afforded by change”
At the most basic level of enquiry, we are finding that leadership is one of the factors that explains how and why some localities are able to adapt to and exploit the opportunities afforded by the complex and rapidly changing business, economic development social and environmental circumstances of the modern world - and may also partly explain why some places are better able than others to minimise the disruption that change brings.
Our work also confirms that a much better alignment is required in the practice of leading across business, the public and third sectors in order for more widespread responsible and sustainable economic development outcomes to be achieved at the sub-national scale.
Our work is influencing leadership R&D agendas and approaches to the teaching of leadership - and leadership development in/for early 21st century city and regional development. We ask a series of questions, including: Who are the leaders in cities and regions? What are leaders in cities and regions actually doing? Why are they doing it? How is their leadership being expressed and demonstrated? What styles are being adopted and how is leadership enacted? How do people justify, legitimise and articulate their leadership? What are the institutional, social, cultural and political constraints to ‘good’ leading?
For our current work on the implications of BREXIT for city and regional development leadership see below:
Selected research outputs
Leadership and Place by Chris Collinge, John Gibney and Chris Mabey (Routledge, 2011).
Sotarauta, M., Beer, A., and Gibney, J., eds. (2017) Leadership in City & Regional Development: Debates and New Directions (a themed special issue) Regional Studies, 51: 2, 187-284
Sotarauta, M., Beer, A., and Gibney, J. (2017) Making Sense of Leadership in City and Regional Development, Regional Studies, 51: 2, 187-193.
Nicholds, A., Gibney, J., Mabey, C. and Hart, D. (2017) Making Sense of Variety in Place Leadership: The Case of England’s Smart Cities, Regional Studies, 51: 2, 249-259.
Dr John Gibney
Telephone: +44 (0)121 414 3051
John joined the University of Birmingham following an influential career in city, regional and cross-border economic development in Europe. He is now developing research, knowledge transfer and Undergraduate and Postgraduate teaching across Business Studies, Public Policy and City and Regional Development Studies.
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Telephone: +44 (0)121 414 3783
Chris's specialisms include regional and local economic change, evolving patterns of public sector governance and issues in the theorization of political and economic change at the sub-national level (from regional innovation to spatial scale to spatial leadership).
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